Bears rally to upset No. 11 Barton, 91-86

Senior guard Aaron Brown making a three-pointer to give Barton a 66-58 second half lead at Shaw on Monday. Brown scored all eight of his points in the second half.
Senior guard Aaron Brown making a three-pointer to give Barton a 66-58 second half lead at Shaw on Monday. Brown scored all eight of his points in the second half.

by Kevin Buczek

RALEIGH, N.C.-Shaw University shot 62.7-percent from the field and took advantage of 21 more free throws than visiting Barton College to upset the 11th ranked Bulldogs 91-86 on Monday night in a filled C.C. Spaulding Gym.

Barton freshman guard Chris Flemmings missed a baseline jumper with 28 seconds left in the game that would have knotted the score before Shaw sealed the victory with three made free throws after the Bulldogs were forced to foul with the shot clock turned off.

The defending CIAA regular season champion Bears avenged a season-opening loss to Barton to improve to 4-2 overall. Shaw rallied from deficits of nine points in the first half and eight points in the second period to win its home opener. The Bears were a perfect 10-0 in C.C. Spaulding Gym in 2011-12 and have now won 16 straight at home and are 19-1 (.950) at home over the past three seasons.

Barton ends non-conference play with a 7-1 overall record. The Bulldogs will have exactly one month to get healthy before playing 18 consecutive Conference Carolinas games starting with King College at home on Thursday, Jan. 3. Barton was undersized against the Bears with three veteran post players on the injured list in Keith Manley, Aaron Coats and Evan Shelton.

Shaw senior 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward Karron Johnson led all players with 27 points on a perfect 11-of-11 field goal shooting including multiple dunks. Johnson also pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds as the Bears won the battle of the boards 35-31.

Seniors Jon Hart and Gerald Boston paced the Bulldogs with 20 points apiece. Hart added a game-high 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Freshman guard Chris Flemmings followed with a season-best 17 point performance including a game-high four 3-pointers.

The Bulldogs started the contest on a 10-4 run. Senior guard Jarrett Jernigan gave Barton its first lead at 5-2 with a three-pointer in the right corner. A dunk by Hart and a three-point play by Boston finished off the opening surge.

Shaw was able to knot the score at 10-all with the next six points before the Royal Blue and White scored the next nine points to electrify a large traveling Barton fan base. Junior guard Zach Faircloth put the Bulldogs ahead with a trey from the left wing before Flemmings notched the next six points. Flemmings swished a 3-pointer by the right sideline before making a steal and fastbreak layup while being fouled. The rookie converted on the free throw to extend BC's advantage to 19-10.

The hosts followed with a 12-2 rally to regain a lead, 22-21, for the first time since the opening basket. A Johnson slam on an alley oop pass by junior Curtis Hine had the Bears leading 24-23 with 8:22 left. Boston answered by taking the ensuing inbounds pass down the length of the court before making one of his trademarked 10-foot running floater. Barton continued to lead 34-29 before Shaw regained its final lead at 38-36 with a 9-2 run. Two consecutive trifectas by Flemmings in a 24-second span put the Bulldogs ahead for the rest of the frame.

Barton led by just two, 44-42, at the intermission. The Bulldogs relied on the three-ball, hitting 6-of-17 (35.3%) attempts from behind the arc. The Bears kept within striking distance going 62.5% (15-24) from the floor including 12-of-16 (75%) on two-pointers. Hart had nine points and nine rebounds at the intermission as BC had a 19-15 edge on the boards at the midway break.

A dunk by Flemmings kept the Bulldogs in front 60-52 after the first five minutes of the second half. Barton held the eight-point edge two more time on a senior Aaron Brown trifecta (66-58) and layup (68-60) before a 14-2 run catapulted Shaw into the lead, 74-70.

Barton was able to tie the game up two more times including the seventh and final time at 79-79 with 3:31 left on a free throw by Brown. Shaw then made its decisive run with the next seven points including another alley oop throw down by Johnson that ignited the home crowd. Johnson finished the run by making 1-of-2 free throws to give the hosts an 86-79 lead with 96 seconds to go in regulation.

Jernigan kept the Bulldogs hopes alive with a three-pointer from the right wing before making a steal that led to a Hart lay-in that pulled Barton to within one possession, 86-84, heading into the final minute. Brown made another Barton theft but Johnson was able to foul the Bulldogs in the final minute without penalty to stop the comeback attempt as BC had not reached the bonus yet. Johnson's foul was only the Bears fifth whistled penalty of the final 20 minutes.

Barton still had possession but Flemmings contested five-footer clanked off the rim before Shaw put away the Bulldogs from the charity stripe.

The Bears made an impressive 62.7% (32-51) of its shot attempts including 27-37 (73%) from inside the three-point circle. Shaw also converted on 22-of-33 freebees (66.7%). Barton fired at 45.8% (33-72) clip. The Bulldogs made a season-high 10 three-pointers at a 38.5% (10-26) rate while making 10 of just 12 free throw opportunities (83.3%).

Brown and Jernigan both finished with eight points. Boston was one assist shy of a double-double with a game-high nine helpers. Hart seized 13 rebounds but no other Bulldog had more than three boards. Barton started four listed guards and only received three rebounds from its reserves.